From 1920 to 1923 Ben Nicholson and his wife Winifred spent winter and spring near Lake Lugano in Switzerland. Cortivallo, the subject of this painting, was one of the nearby villages.
During the early 1920s Nicholson broke away from a conventional manner of painting to a more experimental style. For this he drew on his knowledge of the modern art he’d seen in Paris on his journey from London. The rough modelling of forms and unfinished brushwork are reminiscent of the work of the French Post-Impressionist painter, Paul Cézanne.